Mikel Arteta said Arsenal’s owners Stan Kroenke and chief executive Vinai Venkatesham have apologised to him and the players for the “mistake” of signing up for the European Super League.
The Spaniard that the situation underlined that the game’s soul belongs to the supporters, who he praised for sending “the biggest message in the history of football”.
Arsenal were among the 12 clubs who joined the ill-fated breakaway but Arteta, who was not part of the decision and who, like his managerial peers, was only informed on Sunday, said it has had “terrible consequences”.
Arteta claimed that Arsenal’s power brokers had been operating with the best intentions but Venkatesham has reportedly been ringing the other 14 Premier League clubs who were not involved to say sorry.
And Arteta revealed that he had also received apologies “starting from Vinai, the ownership and everybody that is involved.”
He explained: “The way it has been handled, obviously, has had terrible consequences and that it was a mistake. They apologised for disturbing the team and for not having the capacity and the ability to communicate in a different way earlier. The way it [the apology] has been handled has been really good internally.”
Arteta insisted he did not have time to form a view on the Super League, but said he was opposed to any kind of closed shop.
“I think the competition and the ability to participate has to be earned and that has to be earned on the pitch. I will always believe and defend that. But before I could start to have any opinion on it, the competition was dead already. Everything was completely out of control and the world reacted in a really unified manner. A big tsunami already came on to it and basically killed it.”
Kroenke has acquired the nickname ‘Silent Stan’ for his reluctance to speak in public but Arteta said: “I can talk from my experience as a player, a captain and now as a manager. We have always had great communication and full support from the ownership.
“I know the people who work in the organisation. First, they are very caring for the interests of the football club and second, they are very intelligent and professional people. So I’m sure that they had the right reasons to start something, but it clearly didn’t work or it wasn’t the right time or it wasn’t done in the right way.
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“I think now everything is damaged and everyone has to be working, and we have the responsibility sitting here and you guys there, to rebuild that trust and put football back in the right place.”
Arteta believes everyone was taught a lesson about how much fans’ views matter. He added: “It shows the importance of football in the world. And it shows that the soul of this sport belongs to the fans. During this pandemic, for a year, we’ve been trying to sustain this industry with no fans in the stadium.
"But when the fans have to come out and talk they do it really loud and clear and they sent probably the strongest message that has ever been sent in the football world. So that is a massive statement for the history of football. We have to listen to them. We put it out and within 24 hours they killed the project.”
Arteta admitted the Premier League’s Big Six could face legal action, adding: “I don’t know the legal details. Obviously, when you act and make the decisions, there are always consequences.”
Arsenal host Everton, who are above them in the table but were not in the Super League, on Friday night. Arteta will be without Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang while Martin Odegaard faces a fitness test.